Promotion of tolerance and mutual respect starts at an early age at the ELCJHL–run Dar al-Kalima Evangelical Lutheran School in Bethlehem where the student body is 40 percent Christian and 60 percent Muslim. © ELCJHL/ Elizabeth McHan
Junge Lauds Holy Land Church Support to Peace-building Institutions
GENEVA, 24 February 2012 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has extended congratulations to Palestinian Lutheran pastor Rev. Dr Mitri Raheb on winning the 2011 “Deutscher Medienpreis” (German Media Prize). The award, which Raheb will receive later today, recognizes his individual and the church’s peace efforts, said LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge.
Raheb is pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). He is among four recipients of the prestigious prize to be awarded in Baden-Baden, Germany.
“The Deutscher Medienpreis is a recognition of not only your hard work and passion for justice, it is an affirmation of your approach, and that of the ELCJHL, to the complicated challenges of building institutions that change lives and of building relationships that strengthen prospects for a lasting peace,” wrote Junge in a congratulatory letter to Raheb.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the prize this year, it honors individuals who, in their work for peace, have quietly carried on without much media attention. The Deutscher Medienpreis jury said Raheb was being honored for building the Bethlehem congregation’s education, health care and dialogue programs.
Raheb is president of the Diyar Consortium and the ELCJHL Synod. The Bethlehem congregation and the Consortium, along with other congregational and educational ministries, reach out to thousands of individuals and families each year in Jerusalem, other parts of the West Bank and Amman, Jordan.
Junge said Raheb’s tireless service as a Lutheran leader and as a peace worker was an inspiration to those seeking a just solution to the conflict in the Middle East.
“Your efforts exemplify the ELCJHL’s nonviolent opposition to the Occupation, its uncompromising commitment to finding peaceful solutions, and its rigorous promotion of tolerance and mutual respect among Jews, Christians and Muslims, and between Palestinians and Israelis,” wrote the LWF general secretary.
“This prize is especially significant because it recognizes your individual contributions and it honors the values and witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in which you serve.”
The LWF general secretary praised Raheb’s work among Palestinian youth and his efforts in developing high quality educational and vocational training from a Christian perspective, which focuses on compassion, love and forgiveness.
“Your work has helped shape the ELCJHL’s vision of the future for Palestinians and Israelis, where self-determination, dignity, freedom, prosperity, hope and reconciliation outshine the decades of conflict and discrimination,” noted the LWF leader.
Junge emphasized the ELCJHL’s contribution to interpreting the vision of the LWF which is embodied in its member churches “working together for a just, peaceful and reconciled world.”
The Palestinian pastor was also recognized in 2008 when he received the Aachen Peace Prize. He will receive the Deutscher Medienpreis alongside Dr Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Stanislaw Petrow of Russia; and Dr Sakena Yacoobi of Afghanistan.
The 3,000-member ELCJHL joined the LWF in 1974. It has five congregations in Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Bethlehem area, and in Amman (Jordan), and is led by Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, also LWF President.